Towing vehicles using your car sounds simple enough but there are many rules in the UK you need to adhere to in order to be legal. Whilst these rules are covered in depth on the https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car website, we’ll try to digest these legalities into a more user-friendly fashion but please remember that the rules can change at any time, so it’s best to double-check the gov.uk website to be absolutely sure.
Weight when towing
It is sensible to make sure that the vehicle your car is towing doesn’t overload your car. Ideally the towing vehicle should be no more than 85% of your car’s weight. Also ensure that you do not overload the vehicle or have anything overhanging.
Towing a caravan
When towing a caravan, it’s important to try to make it as light as possible, placing luggage in the car if possible. Not only does this save you having to tie down this luggage but it helps as the caravan on it’s own is already heavy and increases the load on your car. To find out the ’empty’ weight of your caravan, you can visit a local weighbridge which can usually be found on your local authority website. Then to know the caravan weight is when fully loaded, weight every piece of luggage separately and add it to the mass weight.
There are dedicated caravan websites you can visit for further information which are Caravan Club and the Camping & Caravanning Club. Once you know the weight of your caravan and car, then you’ll know it for next time unless you change your vehicle or caravan.
Driving licence rules on towing
If you received your driving licence before 1997, you are allowed to tow a combined weight (including car and towing trailer / caravan) to a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 8.25 tonnes.
However if you have a driving licence after 1st January 1997 up until 1st January 2013, then there are different rules and restrictions on the towing of vehicles, unless you took an extra driving test called the ‘B+E’ test. Basically the rules for towing weights for licences 1997 onwards are:
- You are allowed to drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM, or
- You can tow a trailer over 750kg MAM if the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle isn’t any more than 3,500kg in weight.
If your licence was issued after 1st January 2013, then the following towing rules apply to you:
- You are allowed to tow small trailers weighing no more than 750kg, or
- You are allowed to tow a trailer over 750kg if the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes).
Again, if you want to tow a trailer that weighs more than 750kg, you’ll need to pass the B+E test.
Choosing a tow bracket for your car
If your car doesn’t include a tow bracket as standard then you’ll need to get one fitted which suits the model of your car and you’ll need to check that your car is actually allowed to use one as some cars are not designed for towing. Tow brackets sold in the UK have to be tested to European standards and you’ll need to fix the tow bar to the correct place on your vehicle according to the manufacturer for it to be legal. You can actually use the NTTA website to find an approved tow bar fitter.
Preparing your vehicle for towing
It’s always advisable to keep to your car manufacturers recommended service schedule and if you’re caravanning or towing a trailer as you’re likely to want your car to be healthy and avoid any breakdowns on the road. Here at MCM Garage in Radstock, near Midsomer Norton, Bath we can always fit you in for a car health check, MOT or service. Just get in touch on
01761 415 501 or visit our contact page to arrange a time.